Sailboat Races & The Corinthian Yacht Club

My business partner was racing today, and in 30 plus knots of wind, I might add. So we went to the Corinthian Yacht Club in Belvedere, California to meet him. This is a stunning place all around. I walked upstairs and there was no one around except a man drinking a margarita and talking on the phone. I took a seat and we both looked out over the San Francisco Bay. There were maybe 100 people in the bar and deck below, but it was supremely peaceful and comparatively quiet on the second floor.

Sailing has become my life. Not just the sailing, but the lifestyle and the people. After the Corinthian, on the way home we stopped to put the tags on the boat, however the wind made this task better for another day.

I went into the clubhouse and there was a Jazz band playing. Several friends were there, so I joined them. The jazz band played on as the winter sun slowly set over the San Francisco Bay.

Love and Blessings.

Moon Lit Path

Yesterday afternoon, I met up with my business partner, at our Santa Cruz 27 sailboat. I’m writing a book about my painful, although transformative first year of widowhood, making this meeting a welcome distraction.

Initially, we had little wind, but we put up the sails anyway, and as happens in life, the simple act of doing this somehow resulted in the wind picking up. It’s been a long time since I’ve rigged a boat to sail, usually the boat is ready when I arrive, so, it was nice to go through the motions of setting the lines, and raising the sail, especially since this is my own boat.

When we got out on the Bay we had the perfect circumstances for a sail and we headed north toward Tiburon at a fairly rapid pace. We listened to music and talked about all that we had accomplished over the past year. Our company Ocean SF is on track to have a very profitable year, our nonprofit The Trident Project has a year of events and activities planned, and our sailboat participated in her first race. Albatross, Andrews company, has had month over month of record sales, and my blog has a loyal following.

The book that I’m writing is my personal story about being strengthened by tragedy. The journey I’ve had is one of transformation. Undoubtedly, we are all transformed by our experiences. The choice is then ours to decide if it will be for the negative or the positive.

I’ve been reading my journals from the past eighteen months. It’s been anything, but easy, I only wish I could go back in time and reassure myself that everything would be alright, because I was full of so much fear. What I noticed most, however, was that although I was fearful I walked straight into that fear.

One of the authors I read during this time was Danielle Laporte, and one of her famous quotes is:

“Your life unfolds in proportion to your courage.”

As I sat on my sailboat I reflected on my courage and resilience, and the adversity that has brought me here to this perfect place of happiness, peace and calm. The word grateful doesn’t begin to describe how I feel.

As we headed back to the Berkeley Maria the moon had risen and it lit our path. How fitting, to have a well lit path now after so much darkness.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way.

Love and blessings to all.

Solana’s First Yacht Race

If you’ve been following the story of Solana, or the “sunshine” boat, owned by our sailing apparel company Ocean SF, you will be happy to know she has her first race on Saturday. It will be a double-handed crew of Andrew Lacenere and Hawkeye King.

“The course is defined by the Golden Gate, Richmond, and Bay Bridges, and racers must pass by or sail under them in order to round each mark and head back to the finish line. Over the years it has grown from a modest gathering to the monster it is today, earning the title as the largest single- and double-handed race in the United States.”

I would love to be crewing this race but I will be at our nonprofit event for The Trident Project with Save the Bay.

It is so gratifying to see the dreams we created and the plans we made on a dark December night in 2015 finally coming to fruition. I am grateful for those who have helped us along the way.

Love and blessings to all.

Smooth Sailing

The last months of the year surprisingly brought a tremendous amount of fun. My precious daughter was home from college, my friend Jeff was home from Colombia, my business partner and I attended some very interesting and enjoyable Capital fund raising events, and it was my birthday which brought a few weeks worth of parties, lunches and celebrations.

Now, everyone has left and it’s just Siena and I again. When I’m not spending time with her, I am working ten or more hours per day on our nonprofit The Trident Project, and Ocean SF, and on the book I am writing about grief.

I believe in setting intentions, achievable goals, and then tracking to these on a daily basis, so I am also planning my course of action for 2018 and in particular the months ahead.

Over the last eighteen months, I consistently thought of my progress as being one of laying a strong foundation. I had no other intention than to lay this foundation. I spent a good deal of time thinking about my own happiness and what I needed to do to one day arrive in a future where I could use my talents, share my wisdom and make a difference in the world. My nonprofit The Trident Project, our sailing apparel company, Ocean SF and my blog were all born from this intention.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about my character and how to improve myself in this regard. Over the past year or more, this hadn’t entered my mind, but now I want to be a better, stronger, and kinder version of myself. To do this I am turning to my books and writing to find this wisdom, and spending time by myself again.

After a week of near solitude, over the weekend I spent time with friends. On Friday night out to dinner with the girls, then Saturday on the water with the Race Committee for the Midwinter Yacht Races. I helped to check in the racers, then went to the bow and raised flags for the start.

It was beautifully calm in the morning and then, luckily, the wind picked up for the race that afternoon. I spent time with my friend Fran, it was her birthday, and we sat in the sunshine, and wind, eating lunch as she told me about her life. It was truly a beautiful and idyllic day.

Afterward, I met my business partner and his girlfriend for drinks. We’ve been friends now for long enough to have some very funny memories, many of these included our early days sailing and hanging out at The Olympic Circle Sailing Club, where I met our mutual friend and my Sailing Instructor Tom Dryja.

While I was in his class he would say things like, “Sydney, that’s a beautiful knot, but it’s upside down and backwards.”

Over the course of my many days learning from him, 18 sails that first winter, I gained much respect for him, and his ability to teach the complexity of sailing to even a dyslexic like myself.

Eventually, I could tie all my knots correctly and now I own a boat.

This proves to me at least, that if you set foot in the direction of your dreams, they truly can, and do, come true.

I look forward to 2018 being one of smooth sailing not just for myself, but for everyone.

Love and blessings.

Newfoundland, Sailing & Gooseberry Jam

I’ve had a walk down memory lane recently. My cousin, and I have been chatting, he’s twelve years my junior, but we’ve always had an affinity for one another. When he was six he would hide from me, but I could always hear his laughter and quickly find him. When I was twenty I spent a summer in Vancouver B.C. and I spent a lot time with him, and his little brother Jeff and their dog, Lucy.

Now, he’s the father of three little girls and he calls me every so often to check in. No two people could be less alike. Mostly, we talk about raising our girls, or our favorite topic business. He’s also a very successful entrepreneur. And I’m not surprised, he was wicked smart as a kid. Now, he has a beautiful wife by his side, and they work together building their business and raising their children.

We talk a lot about the large family we come from. My mother was the oldest of twelve, and his father was the oldest son, Daniel, named after our grandfather, landing at number five. My cousin has a different perspective being younger and having grown up in Canada, in both Newfoundland and Vancouver, British Columbia.

I love to hear his stories of the things I missed. Not only is he wicked smart, he’s wicked funny as well, and everything he says carries our ancestral shared sense of humor, which is our birthright.

Talking to him recently made me nostalgic for Newfoundland, my mother, and her people. I pulled out the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Shipping News, by E. Annie Proulx from my bookcase. She writes there is no place like Newfoundland, six thousand miles of coast blind-wrapped in fog, snow in May, a place of ghosts and magic.

That’s the Newfoundland that I remember.

However, what I miss the most is the language of Newfoundland, when Proulx wrote the novel, she said she went to sleep with the dictionary of Newfoundland under her pillow, for over a year, to get it right. But, it’s not the same to read it. I wanted to hear it. So, I watched the movie, it brought back memories of my grandmother’s house and her fresh bread, warm from the oven, smothered in butter, sour cream, and gooseberry jam, and the way they spoke there was almost musical, a melody to their words that can’t be explained.

Of course, there were always parties, and it was so much fun, with so many people around, and everyone inevitably gathering together in the warm kitchen drinking tea or whiskey from a tea cup with a saucer, no less.

My grandmother’s house was rambling with five bedrooms upstairs, and three below, she always kept it in perfect condition with freshly painted walls, and fresh wall paper in the hallways. It had a stately mahogany staircase and even a tiny telephone room at the second landing, where you could talk in peace, the floors were covered in red and blue rugs, the furniture in velvet.

My mother’s room was small and cozy at the front of the house, but my grandmother put me in my grandfather’s room the last time I was there. It was large with a fireplace, and a view of Portugal Cove Road, and the Memorial University Medical School Campus, and beyond the sea. My grandmother slept on the other side of the house overlooking the pond where the children ice skated in winter when they were young.

Last night, I went to sleep dreaming of Newfoundland, the icy tundra, the hypnotic crash of waves on rock, the smell of fish, weather and salt. It felt so strange to wake up to sunny California, my Meyer Lemon tree and the Christmas party I am planning.

Somethings remain in our blood forever.

I know these roots are what made me a sailor, I knew this the first day. I felt it immediately, I was completely comfortable, and at home on a sailboat.

The past always informs the future.

Love and blessings to all.

Marin, Tim Parr & Caddis

Being your own boss has many benefits, one of them is meeting up with interesting people in beautiful places. Today, in Marin, I sit outside in the sunshine having lunch with the legendary Tim Parr, who’s been a driver behind iconic brands like Patagonia, Kona, and L.L. Bean to name just a few.

He’s just launched another company called Caddis, an eyewear company. It’s all about lifestyle, check out their Architects and Custodians page here, it’s about creating change, generating ideas, and spawning creativity.

I’ve been trying to get a meeting with him since last summer, after an introduction by mutual friends, the Finegold’s of Tart, as he is very experienced in working with Merino wool. It was certainly worth the wait. He gave me some great advise for Ocean SF, aside from reassuring me that we were on the right track; he advised we take our time, and make the highest quality product possible. It will take as long as it takes. True that.

We’ve taken a great deal of time to create a sustainable product that is both beautiful and environmentally responsible, and after a year and a half of working diligently, orders will begin shipping in the next few weeks.

It’s been a journey, with many twists and turns along the way, but ultimately there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a vision you created with friends on a sailboat come to fruition. This is something Tim Parr completely understands.

What an inspiring guy. And he bought me lunch. What’s not to love?

Check out his company at caddislife.com.

Love and blessings to all.

Boyfriends, Mountain Tops & Being an Environmentalist

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Mt. Bachelor, Bend, Oregon 1986

My high school boyfriend taught me how to ski by throwing me down the face of Mt. Bachelor. He took me down a treacherous black diamond trail, ironically called Texas, that ran from the top of that mountain straight down to the Lodge. It was one of the most terrifying episodes of my life, but I soon mastered the basics and was hooked.

At Oregon State, my then boyfriend, took me on a ski trip my freshman year. There was nothing about it that I didn’t like. I loved spending time in the cabin with friends, skiing all day with the snow falling, and sitting at the top eating lunch overlooking a vast and pristine valley.

Many ski trips followed, including one to Whistler, Canada with my Alpha Phi Big Sis Susie White, also an avid skier.  We could not of had more fun.

I didn’t think of myself as an environmentalist then.  I only knew that I loved nature.  And there wasn’t anything I enjoyed more than skiing down a snowy mountain with the people I loved.  I realize that what I valued most was the serene and unspoiled beauty of these landscapes.  I was blessed to be able to share this love with my own children who spent the majority of their childhood in Lake Tahoe, winter and summer, either skiing, hiking, or paddle boarding.

When I found sailing, I felt the same way about it.  I love the beauty of the ocean, the gorgeous Islands that sit off of San Francisco, the inlets around Tiburon and the incomparable beauty of sitting on a boat as the sun sets behind the Golden Gate Bridge. These settings and the people I am with have combined to create some of the most priceless moments of my life. So, that is why I am an environmentalist.  I think in many ways, we all are environmentalist, we have to be, it is no longer a hobby, but a necessity of this life.

The Trident Project, our nonprofit, has an Ocean clean up scheduled for the end of January, 2018.  We will be partnering with Save The Bay, and will provide an environmental education component geared toward the elimination of plastic usage, as well as a clean up effort to remove plastic and other garbage from San Francisco Bay (I will share more as we get closer to the date).

Along with all the other environmentalists, or nature lovers, I will dedicate my life to preserving these beautiful places for the people I love, my own children, and all the children that come after them. I can’t imagine a better way to spend my life.

Love and blessings to all.

Whoever Said it Was Easy Must of Had it Pretty Good

The life of an entrepreneur is wrought with untold obstacles, stress, and fight or flight inducing fear. If this were easy, then everyone would be doing it.

I’ve worked for four start ups, all of them successful, but I took note of the downfalls, the set backs, and the inherent doubt and confusion involved. So, I knew exactly what I was getting into when I started Ocean SF, but the lure of following my own dream, making a meaningful mark on the world, and being my true authentic self was too great. Safety and security and a known path in life can be beautiful, and I’ve done that as well, but stepping onto an unknown path is another matter all together. Taking this risk has summoned my upmost courage.

From the beginning, the obstacles along the way have not deterred, or surprised me. I expected them quite honestly, and regardless, I continued on knowing in my heart that I was on the right path, and there was no turning back.

Now, the fabric that we went to hell and back to manufacture has shipped. We looked all over the world for this fabric from LA, to NYC, to Italy, France, China and Bangladesh. We had everyone looking for it, and we rejected countless samples. Finally, we had no choice, but to acquiesce, and mill it our selves in our custom colors, most significantly Safety Orange. It took four solid months! Believe it or not, you can’t buy sustainable wool fleece, not like ours and not anywhere in the world. You can buy polyester fleece all day long for cents on the dollar, but it pollutes drinking water, and does not keep sailors, or anyone else warm if it gets wet. There is nothing like it for performance outdoors.

Our fabric is custom milled for Ocean SF of 100% Merino wool. The exterior is tightly woven to keep the wind out, the soft interior to keep you warm, while regulating body heat. Anyone can wear it for any sport. It’s beautiful, machine washable, and so on.

I’ve been conducting focus groups. And no surprise, everyone who sees our jackets, touches the fabric and tries it on absolutely loves it. Thank goodness!

To see the light at the end of the tunnel finally, feels so good. If it were easy everyone would be doing it. Follow your dreams people! Find what makes your heart pound and do that.

Love and blessings to all.

Calling All Angels

Enter the world of Ocean SF, our beautiful, chic, environmentally sophisticated clothing company targeting the affluent American sailing market, plus all our fellow adventure seekers!

We are raising capital to expand our clothing line beyond our popular sustainable signature jacket made with our custom milled 100% Merino wool to include silk, linen, cashmere, and cotton casual apparel for all outdoor activities on and off shore.

We are opening our first round for friends and family with only a minimum investment of $5,000.

Angels can contact me personally, or via our webstore at oceansf.co, or at hello@oceansf.co. We will put you in contact with our financial advisor who will fill you in on all details.

Love and blessings to all.

You Are My Sunshine

Even before my husband died I had strange incidents of synchronicity, or meaningful coincidences. Yesterday, I had a meeting at Berkeley Yacht Club with a woman I met at the Project Entrepreneur Summit. Julie runs a company called the Healing Farm, and I was telling her the story behind the purchase of our beloved sail boat, Solana. I wrote about this nine months ago when it happened, but it is even more relevant now that Solana is in the water and such a big part of our lives.

Grief is a tricky emotion. Sometimes, the pain subsides and it’s possible for me to go about my day like a normal person, but other times it is crippling. For me, the saddest part is raising my daughters alone, and there are times when the weight and sorrow of this is too much to bare. This is compounded by having lost my own father when I was nine years old, and my mother twenty years later.  If I allow myself to think too hard about these losses I am left with a stunning sense of abandonment. One day in particular, I was in the later mindset. I was running errands and crying while doing so.

People in my small town are, as a rule, very kind, so no one appeared to notice as I did my shopping while crying. As my tears fell the checkers would only look at me with compassion and ask softly if I might need a bag for my purchases.  While picking up wrapping paper at Home Goods, I saw a coffee cup that said, “Sunshine heals” and around the rim, “You are my sunshine” and I decided to buy it for myself to cheer myself up.  I paid for it, and took it home with me, and later that night, I was texting Andrew, my boat partner and business partner, and I asked the name of the boat he wanted to buy, and he said, “Solana” or “Sunshine” in Spanish.  I was drinking out of the cup as I read this, and then my eyes slowly glanced down, there was a sun on the front with a smiley face. ☀️

This was definitely in the category of rare moments I will never forget, and now having since bought and successfully restored our beautiful sailboat Solana, it makes that moment even more meaningful.

As I’ve moved forward on this difficult journey, I’ve followed signs like these, they are like guide posts along the way, I don’t know if it is the Universe or God, or my own belief in such things, but they are always with me.  One day, I was singing a song in the house as I was getting ready to leave, and when I got in the car, it was playing on the radio.  Whether, it is a song, or meeting someone new who is so encouraging of my writing or my company Ocean SF, it makes me feel like I am on the right path.

Buying Solana was one of the best decisions I have ever made.  We now have our meetings for Ocean SF on our boat, and it will soon serve as a mobile pop-up store (more on this later). And for The Trident Project, our non-profit, it will be used to troll for plastics and gather water samples for Berkeley Labs.

The cup I bought so many months ago, now sits on the desk in my office, and holds my colored pencils, and as for the tears, well, sometimes, it really is alright to cry.

As the months go by, I am grateful for the beautiful and supportive small town I live in, all of the friends I’ve made sailing, and starting my sailing apparel line, and for our little yellow boat, Solana.

Love and blessings to all.